To Resolve or Not to Resolve

Laura Stack
<!–www.laurastack.com//–>I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. Frustrated by bad habits like smoking, overeating, being disorganized, or not exercising, many of us vow to change and make a New Year’s resolution. “This year, I’ll walk on my treadmill three times a week,” we pledge, and by May, it’s gathering dust down in the basement. Defeated, many people give up further attempts to change.

Most of us don’t have a clue how to make a reasonable resolution, which is why most of us fail to keep the ones we make. We set high goals for ourselves, and then wonder why we never attain them. So we either stop setting goals (never a good choice), or make resolutions that are ridiculously easy to keep.

Making a decision to change just because it’s New Year’s Day isn’t enough to keep you motivated for *long.* Lasting change means being prepared to make sacrifices. Are you truly willing to make the effort to kick a bad habit and start a healthy one? If so, you’ll need to develop a plan of action and make that plan a priority.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Conduct an “annual review” before the end of this month to determine the things that you meant to do, change, or accomplish by the end of 2002 that didn’t get done. After you’ve completed the review, take a moment to pause, step back, and appreciate all the things you *have* accomplished in 2002, and my hope is that this will motivate you to aspire higher in 2003.

Select a *few* (two or three) things that you’d like to change or accomplish in 2003.

Word your goals carefully. Let’s say your resolution is to relax more in the coming year. Try not to think of it as “This year I am going to relax.” That’s a stress-inducer waiting to happen! It forces you into thinking of the resolution as something you must do, not something you want to do. Try to make it sound a little gentler: “This year I’m going to explore different ways of relaxing.” It also suggests more of a plan—you’ll fulfill the resolution by experimenting with relaxation techniques. The first resolution sounds as if you’re going to force yourself to relax by sheer willpower.

Write your list and put “due dates” next to each. Then break them down by the month that you will begin working on them. If you wish to start an exercise program, plan what kind of exercise you will do, when, and how often.

Transfer your due dates to your daily plan or calendar, making that “appointment” with yourself just as important as one with another person. Aren’t your needs just as, if not more, important than others?

Create reminder cards you can post around the house, on your bathroom mirror, on your dashboard in your car, etc., to continually remind yourself about your goals.

Take small steps toward your goals, every day or week. If you can do just a little bit to get going, soon you’ll feel the positive effects of the change. And that little bit of change can lead to long-term healthy habits that last far beyond New Year’s Day.

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